Reviews for Today's Song for Tomorrow...
One of the great things about being a reviewer is all the great tuneage I get in the mail. I hear everything from one-man basement bands to well-known "major" label types, so something's really got to grab my attention in order to get me to part with my hard-earned shekels. Such was the case with Lord Sterling's previous effort, 'Weapon of Truth.' Reliable sources indicated that these bad Jersey shorecore mofos had something weird and wonderful going on, something nobody could quite put their finger on. It turned out to be true.
Lord Sterling is tough to categorize. Unmistakably heavy but not monumental, they mix up everything from space to psych to garage in a blues-based stew that will never, EVER sound normal, no matter what they do. It seems that they just can't help themselves. So I was delighted to hear that the band had jumped ship for one of my fave labels, Small Stone. Knowing the label's predilection for Detroit ca. 1970, blues-based rawk, however, I wondered if The Lord could retain their commitment to idiosyncratic eclecticism, or if they would allow their own tendencies towards the Stooges and MC5 to predominate. Well, I'm here to tell you that 'Today's Song for Tomorrow' has more of everything they do: more psychedelia, more punkish dissonance, more space, and yes, Detroit is in there, too. This is the best yet that I've heard from these guys. 'Pivotal Planes' leads things off in heavy, Hawkwind-ish style with plenty o' brain damaging effects. The interesting, mellow 'Thread Will be Torn' sounds like 'Ege Bamyasi-' era Can mixed with Spiritualized and the Velvet Underground, providing an interesting changeup. 'Password' has a Sonic Youth vibe, with lead-in vocals that are a dead ringer for Thurston Moore. In classic Lord Sterling fashion, they provide a cover from a well-known band. The last go 'round it was the MC5 chestnut 'Black to Comm,' this time they provide a faithful version of Pink Floyd's 'Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.' Man, how I love that song! Yes, its a faithful version....until Bink Ryan's vocals go into edgy overdrive, as they are wont to do. At that point he starts sounding more like Hank Rollins than Roger Waters, but its all good. I suspect that Mike Schweigert is responsible for much of the eclecticism in the music, which goes beyond the standard guitar/bass/drums to include harmonium, shenai, and lots of analog synth. Jason Silverio's drums are right-on and never obtrusive, and bassist Jim Baglino's work shows that his talent extends well beyond providing the low end for his day job with Monster Magnet. Additional talent is provided by man-about-'Jersey Keith Ackerman and Nudeswirl's Shane Green, among others.
It would really be impossible in the space allotted to accurately describe this band, but if you're into anything from the Stooges to the MC5 to Hawkwind to Novadriver to the Glasspack to Can to Atomic Bitchwax to Sonic Youth (whew!), then you've got the spirit to get into these guys. And hey, Lord Sterling and Small Stone seem to be a good match! The label gets another set o' high quality tuneage, and Lord Sterling doesn't compromise an inch in their journey up the Mountain of Strange Ideas to wherever it is they're going. Whether they fall off a cliff or make it to the summit, its a journey well worth taking.
Kevin McHughMay, 2004StonerRock.com
Rarely have I ever heard something as original and refreshing as 2003's "Weapon Of Truth". In my mind, it was a landmark album. Despite their heavy blues trips and the free style improvisations, Lord Sterling still played a style that was fairly conventional. You could nail it down if you tried, and you almost knew what was coming next. That was then.
Now with Detroit's fledgling Small Stone label, the 'Lord has returned with that same eclectic zeal and rock and roll intensity, only this time they've upped the ante by branching out into a sonic psychedelic time machine that includes tonnes of obscure, weirded-out organ, percussion and wind instrumentsÓand a whole new head-full of Robert Ryan's tripped out philosophical musings.
"Pivotal Planes" ushers in the new Lord Sterling with the seething, whooshy guitar presence of Mike Schweigert who goes absolutely nuts with the effects without drowning out the subtleties of the sitar and harmonium that the band has added to the mix . Temporarily abandoning these otherworldly sounds, "This Time It's For Real" has Schweigert's killer riffs dictating the flow, getting nestled nicely in between the motor-mouth drumming of Jason Silverio.
It's mid-way through the album when the band's new ferocity becomes apparent, applying a sedate, melodic "Ritual" era Janes meets Doors-like bent to songs like "Thread Will Be Torn", "Evaporate" and the peyote dirge-power of "Password". They do switch it up a bit more with some jangly, Wellwater rocking on "Tough Times for the Troubador", but it has little effect after hearing such hypnotic brilliance, which makes one final appearance on "Set Controls For the Heart Of The Sun"; a psychedelic monument that trips hard through 11+ minutes of doomy mantra and On Trial cluster-fuck effects that the Bull-God himself would deem worthy.
Nick Mucwww.stonerrockchick.comMay 31, 2004
Call them a Nuggets band for the 21st century, or perhaps an East Coast reflection of the Brian Jonestown Massacre (minus the self-destructive, delusional lunacy), but you're better off not even trying to compare Lord Sterling to anyone else. The fact is, these New Jersey mainstays possess so many different influences within their unique sonic aesthetic as to transcend most easy categories -- certainly the stoner rock scene, into which they've often been unfairly lumped over the years. With their third album, 2004's Today's Song for Tomorrow, Lord Sterling drive this notion home with what is possibly their most relaxed, eclectic, but cohesive collection of songs yet. To wit: the hypnotic swirl of "Pivotal Planes" opens the album with harmonious swathes of spacey Moog and guitar noise, while ensuing numbers like "This Time It's for Real," "Poison Lips," and the electric sitar-driven "Hidden Flame" recall Jersey neighbors Gallery of Mites (a musical collective featuring Lord Sterling bassist Jim Baglino, incidentally) with their swinging, retro-garage Nuggets' feel. Intermittently, the band takes it down a notch with lysergic examples of pure, modern psychedelia (yes, that's redundant, but you get the picture) with the head-swaying title track, the dreamy "Thread Will Be Torn," "Evaporate," and the steadily mounting, wonderfully cryptic "Password." The straight-up punk rage of "Tough Times for the Troubadours" is possibly the album's biggest anomaly; and wrapping up Today's Song for Tomorrow's pleasantly surprising diversity is a sleepy, snail-paced, 11-minute rendition of Pink Floyd's "Set Your Controls for the Heart of the Sun" -- just like the original, come to think of it!
Ed RivadaviaJune 3rd, 2004www.allmusic.com
I dig this record a bunch. The recombo/reconstruction of what the rock culture has heaved up since Š68 and the members of the bands influence's leads all sortsa places. Much like the Ohio band Fuzzhead I'd guess they love the phyche /rock /groove of Syd Floyd, the MC's hippie anarchy rock, FunkadelicĂs folk/blues thunder funk, Cans high strung mantra groove take on the first couple Velvets recs.. .hardcoreĂs intensive focus....., the sounds and feelings of their whole life, the addition (rather than subtraction) of tones, feels, and modern technology gives this band-- '' an "alternative reality" feeling. That being where rock music splintering and veering into different splicings that work; mutate to survive, right? No reason a couple hundred thousand of yĂall couldnĂt grasp for this I mean the tunes are there fer ChristĂs sake. Get hoppinĂ.
Craig RegalaJuly, 2004
Funny how no matter what you do, what you listen to, some things keep coming around. This year it's been that way with the newest ZEKE CD "Till The Livin' End."It seems like no matter what else I grab to play in the car, that's one of 'em. Same has gone for this new release by LORD STERLING. I know LS has released stuff previous to this and being the honest kinda guy I am, I'll be first to say I've never heard it. Fact is, the first I'd heard of 'em was Small Stone update I got indicating the discs were being pressed & words like "psychedelic"& "MC5" being bantered about. One thing I've learned however, in reviewing music over the years is that when words are bantered about before an album hits the shelves, it's usually nothing like the rumors, often devolving into a desperate let-down. Well, folks, I'm happy to tell you that ain't the case here! Listening to "Today's Song For Tomorrow" had me thinking long, hard thoughts about classics like "Kick Out The Jams" all the way to The Elevators. But even better still, that's not all. See LORD STERLING's got a lot of depth & that's what I like about 'em. Take, for instance, the opening cut "Pivotal Planes." Sure, there's guitar, bass & drums that jangle together loudly & abrasively, indicating that wonderful proto-garage-metal stew forged in Detroit by the '5 so many years ago. Still, listen to the overdriven, distorted note that crops up a few times here & see if for a minute you can't picture Trouble's Bruce Franklin holding up his Flying V. Listen to the dissonant-yet-glove-fitting electric sitar that raises the bar even further. And, check out the layers of sound that don't crowd but slide together in an uneasy tableau, providing a canvas for the vocals of Robert Ryan. Ryan is a guy who can lay all the cards on the table as a singer. He can rip his lungs out in a punk-&-roll splurge & then give you the whole other side of the coin, jarring you while still being smooth. In fact, there's some really cool, psychy, somber stuff in the 2nd half of this disc where Robert reminds me of one of the commanders of depth & presence, Eric Burdon. And, like Mr. B, he does so without sacrificing a bit of his street-level credibility. The rest of the band (Jim Baglino ű bass; Micke Schweigert ű guitar; Jason Sliverio ű dums) is just great. They've got that old Stones "we sound like we may fall apart any minute but are actually tight as a goddamn drum" feel that you seldom ever hear anymore. Best cuts? AhhÓcan't do it. This is the kinda record that demands to be played in it's entirety, ebbing & flowing, often dragging itĂs flotsam to the shore with it & yet at once, hauling the listener's back out to sea in a wonderful purge. Guess that's why this CD is such a repeated player 'round these parts. Nice!
RayJune 16th, 2004
Lord Sterling has returned with "Today's Song For Tomorrow." This isn't a typical album [in the normal sense of the word]. There are no cross fades between songs. There is no constant musical thread that lines itself throughout this album. No! This is a vast musical exploration and, more importantly, ode to all that was/is holy in distorted music.
Each song has it's own emotion to share that differs from all the other songs. The lyrics are poetically structured both in word and form. This is a jukebox within the borders of one CD -whatever you're in the mood for, "Today's Song for Tomorrow" will provide. At times, the music has that 'in your face' presence -not giving the listener a chance to realize what's going on. At other times, they distance themselves -leaving room for the minds wings to spread out. But, these are not just songs that have been jumbled together and thrown in random order; this is a melting pot of ups and downs, clean and dirty, fast and slow, and Lord Sterling executes it with super-sexy STYLE!
The first track is a vital ingredient to an album if you wish to keep the listeners attention throughout the release's entirety; 'Pivotal Planes' is one of the freshest openers I've heard in a long, long time -for real. Atmospheric. Deep. Artistic. Bagpipes. BAGPIPES! Not to mention a wealth of swirlie sound effects that will tweak your eardrums to no end. 'This Time Is For Real' is the raw, dirty "HEY! FUCK YOU, MAN!" anthem that we all can't get enough of. The cool cruise feeling of 'Poison Lips' has just the right amount of momentum to keep your car running off it's fumes for the next 20 miles.
Then, of course, there is the lullaby 'Thread Will Be Torn.' With all honesty, you could play this for an infant having the biggest hissy fit ever, and the child will sink into the deepest of sleep. Just like 'Pivotal Planes' is a perfect opening track, 'Set Controls for the Heart of the Sun" is the perfect closing -this song will fuck you up! There's no need to go into detail... No! It needs to be experienced on an individual basis in its entirety...
I guess, now that I think about it, that same idea goes for all of "Today's Song for Tommrow." I could sit here all day and type all the influences I hear in the music, but no amount of nit picking would do this record the justice it deserves. It just NEEDS to be HEARD. So, at that: Congratulations! I've just wasted three minutes of your time.
Dr. JonesJune, 2004www.roadburn.com
It would be easy to call New Jersey's Lord Sterling what Monster Magnet would sound like if it had continued along the cosmic path of its earlier records, or refer to it as the Hawkwind of stoner rock, or the political arm of psychedelia. But, in the end, all of those are too simple to describe such a multi-faceted band. Hard rockin' sludge, dreamy psychedelic trancing and angry, punk-flavored diatribes mix seamlessly together for a socially conscious space rock journey through a world gone strange. Whether it's the resigned melancholy of "Thread Will Be Torn" or the butt-rocking anger of "Tough Times For the Troubadours," Lord Sterling straddles a dozen worlds with strong thighs and firm footing. Plus its reefer-to-rage cover of Pink Floyd's "Set the Controls For the Heart of the Sun" actually makes Roger Waters tolerable.
Michael TolandJuly 4th, 2004www.highbias.com
Down in Jersey, they like growing their hair long and noodlin' on their gee-tars all day, and Lord Sterling (as they are collectively known ű there's no actual Lord named Sterling on deck) stand out from the other Sludge Packers cuz, well, their hair is longer and their guitars noodlier then the rest of their kin. Now, I suppose, given the geography of the situation and the label they're on, that you've got to file "TSFT" under Stoner Rock, but itĂs not, really. It's more like electric swamp music, fulla ghosts and two headed dogs and shooting stars that look like UFOĂs. There's lots of quiet spaces in these songs that, frankly, sound like Blind Melon (which you really DID like, you just forgot), and lots of bombastic, Super-Arena bits that combine elements of grunge and 70's hard/space rock, to create a wood-paneled basement full of gatefold sleeve rock n' roll for y'all to get real, real gone with. I like the low n' slow, Santeria-ish "Evaporate" the best, but I've had a hard day. You might dig the rippin' blooze punk of "This Time it's For Real" or the Southern rock death ballad "Password", or maybe the space-metal epic (11minutes!) closer "Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun". I mean, that's entirely up to you. All I know for sure is that if you dig heavy-ass rock n' roll, LS got plenty of it for ya here. Solid.
KenJuly 1st, 2004www.sleazegrinder.com
ROCK REPORT (BENELUX)
4 out of 6 stars
I have only two words for you about this new Lord Sterling release: Far out! Those familiar with vintage Monster Magnet, Hawkwind and even the Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd will definitely find this a welcome addition to their collection. Their sound is slightly more guitar laden than previous mentioned bands, but nevertheless firmly rooted in the well known 70's space rock genre, and contains really strange guitar sounds, moog synths and instruments I didn't even know existed. On this sonic space-cake no voice is left without its fair deal of echo, reverb and all sorts of funny effects. To prove my point, fast forward to their rendition of Pink Floyd's 'Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun' and hear them dragging this classic track kicking and screaming into the 21st century. There are echoes of the past all over this piece of work. You can hear The Doors passing by while listening to 'Password' and even the more psychedelic sounds of Velvet Underground find their place in 'Thread Will Be Torn'. Cosmic music for cosmic people. Fellow space travelers and hangers-on, this is your new soundtrack. DonĂt get lost in the woods.
KVKJuly 24th, 2004www.rockreport.be
Not since the UK's The Heads had their last American release on Man's Ruin Records have I heard a band break such new ground in a genre that too often pigeonhole's itself. From Hawkwind to Pink Floyd to Monster Magnet to Kyuss you can hear a range of influences in Lord Sterling's sound. But as the opening track "Pivotal Planes" reveals, it is the band's knack for weaving psychedelia with stoner rock chords and intertwining soundscapes that make them so unique. It's truly an inventive sound that throughout the course of ten songs shows no signs of staleness, nor of the band limiting their imagination.
Quite frankly, these guys can do whatever they please musically. They can rock out with the best 70s retro heads as proven by "This Time It's For Real" and "Tough Times for the Troubadours." Sixties psychedelia rears its head as a sitar sound is combined with Stooges-esque power chords on "Hidden Flame." They can be super-bluesy as showcased on "Thread Will Be Torn." "Poison Lips" is a direct tribute to the Detroit garage rock sound of The Stooges and the MC5. There's a bit of The Doors thrown in there with airy, psychedelic jams like "Evaporate." Hell, they even take a nice stab at Pink Floyd's "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" and amazingly give it a brand new flavor. Not since Monster Magnet's Superjudge has a band done such a wonderful job of blending so many influences into a thunderous rock n' roll album.
Part of what makes Lord Sterling's music so much more than a mish mash of styles is the expertise each member brings to their unique approach. In a torrent of sound, that drifts in and out, bassist Jim Bagliano (also of Monster Magnet now) and drummer Jason Silverio anchor the flowing mass to a solid foundation. In addition Bagliano provides texture with various bits on the Moog synthesizer and Echoplex. Guitarist Mike Schweigert shifts from blistering, obnoxiously loud power chords to wide-open 60s rock strumming, each time making it work for the song. With his almost flowing, stream of consciousness vocal style, Robert Ryan cements the bands uniqueness while adding a vital energy to each song.
The spirit of experimentation is alive and well in this New Jersey quartet. It gives them a sound that defies labels while still allowing them to challenge most heavyweights in terms of sheer power. Thankfully the album is as fun to listen to as it is to gape at the sheer ballsiness of what Lord Sterling can get away with
Ken WohlrobAugust 8th, 2004
DAREDEVIL MAGAZINE (Germany)
This album is a trip for sure. Why? Hmmm... the vocals sound pretty punky... hmmm... hard to describe...they're spoken, but also sung... a bit like a mix out of Henry Rollins and Dave Wyndorf... awesome. The music is somewhere between Hawkwind, MC5 and old Monster Magnet. I love that mix of trippin'70's sound, groovy Space-Rock and Garage-Punk. I also love that quiet moments on "Today's Song For Tomorrow"... almost like the Doors. I mean... if the Doors still would be around this could be their 2004 release. You surely ask yourself now: "Damn Ralf.. is this guy is trippin' all the time?"... you're right, but all the things I wrote are the truth and if you listen to "Today's Song For Tomorrow" you will understand too. This is one of the most interesting releases of this year. A TRIP!!!!
Lord Sterling is part of the New Jersey psychedelic stoner rock scene and features Jim Baglino (now in Monster Magnet). The CD opens with "Pivotal Planes", a hard driving psych rocker with all sorts of weird sounds, horns, organ and effects worked into the head mix. I really like the vocalist (Robert Ryan) but not when he uses the angry vocals. He sounds so much better in the mid to low range. "This Time ItĂs For Real" is a straightforward rock song. "Hidden Flame" is a snotty punk inspired rocker and this is followed by "Thread Will Be Torn". This is where the CD really takes off into psychedelic rock territory ▀ la On Trial. "Thread" and "Password" are really excellent songs inspired by the greats of the 60s, with organ, sitar and cool effects. "Poison Lips" is the most 60Ăs inspired track with that twangy guitar and effected vocals. "Evaporate" is a slow moody dark psychedelic trip! "Tough Times For Troubadours" is back to the aggressive rock of the earlier part of the record. The title track brings it back down and is a brilliant track that floats in itĂs own space. The CD ends with a great cover of "Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun" by Pink Floyd. An excellent psych rock record!
Scott HellerOctober, 2004
Lord Sterling is back after a two years hiatus with a brand new album on a different label yet again. Small Stone Records reserves the hot seat this time around and the name of the game is once more far from the conventional and the genre fitting. Thing is the band show intrinsic skill in rendering uncomfortable music bedfellows seamlessly lie down and philander till the morning due and thatĂs no mean task by any standards. Think garage, think psychedelic, think discordant, think punk. Put them side by side and then consider any other band doing it any better, whilst displaying such flair and unnerving ease.
Indeed when ˘Pivotal Planes÷ kicks in you definitely know you are up for a ride. One of the most sinister riffs this side of a bad acid trip with pummelling drums following tribal patterns for extra sonic discomfort and RobertĂs Ryan sneering histrionics crawling back at you from every conceivable corner. Sitar-fuelled ˘Hidden Flame÷ would have made MC5 proud if they were born in India and shared from the same cup of herbal wisdom as Hawkwind. ˘Password÷ is simply cathartic, while ˘Tough Times For The Troubadours÷ apart from holding the best song title in recent memory is breathtaking in all its splendour. Following the tradition, Pink FloydĂs ˘Set The Controls For The Heart Of The Sun÷ is given the covering treat and serves as a fitting epilogue to the precedings.
While not necessarily better than their previous effort; as some less accomplished moments can be found, Lord Sterling deserve all praise for once again delving outside formulaic inspiration and misconceptions of creation. ˘Our music is a secret order÷. Damn right!